When you are driving along the road, you might not realise it, but your car is riding on air. The pressure of the air inside the tyres supports the entire weight of your car, including you, the driver, and any passengers or luggage you’ve got with you. If you drive, then you’ll probably be familiar with tyres, the rubber coverings that fit around your wheel trim. The tyres are a main part of your car and they are constantly in contact with the road. They are made with absorbent materials to enable them to provide grip and absorb shock. Tyres are inflated with air, and the amount of air that is in a tyre can have a significant impact on its performance.
How Much Air in Car Tyres?
All car manufacturers will provide guidelines when it comes to the ideal inflation for your tyres. Typically, this will be given in terms of pressure, and the majority of cars will include this information in both imperial and metric, as do the majority of air pumps that you can use to put more air in your tyres.
Look for a tyre placard or check the manufacturer’s handbook to find the correct tyre pressure for your car. The tyre placard will usually be found in the glove box, on the inside of the filler cap, or just inside the door. Always read the fine print since most manufacturers provide a recommendation for the minimum tyre pressure. Maintaining the ideal pressure will help you make sure that your tyres last for longer and that you get the best ride from your car.
How Much Pressure in Car Tyre – Over- or Under-Inflated
Most drivers know that it is important to keep the tyres at the correct pressure to get the best from them, but what happens if your tyres are over-inflated or under-inflated? If your tyres have too much air in them, they will have a smaller contact path with the road. This might have an effect on braking, and the rolling resistance will be decreased, which could increase the fuel consumption of the car. Over-inflated tyres may also compromise the comfort of your ride, decrease the handling of the car, and even cause noise to come from the tyres when driving.
On the other hand, tyres that have not been inflated enough will have a greater contact area with the road. As a result, this causes increased rolling resistance and friction, which increases fuel consumption and is bad for the overall fuel efficiency of the car. Under-inflated tyres can have an adverse effect on the performance of the car and can lead to faster and greater tyre wear. This is because the increase in friction can cause the tyres to be hotter, and the shoulder of the tread will wear down faster due to the shape of the tyre. Along with this, the lifetime of the tyre might be reduced due to the extra stress it puts on the casing, and braking performance might be negatively affected.
How Often Should You Check How Much Air Pressure in Car Tyres?
You should check the tyre pressure around once every two weeks, or at least once per month. The best time to check your tyres is when they are cold, rather than when they are hot after you have been driving. You can reduce the amount of time in between each check by having your tyres inflated with nitrogen gas instead. You should also inspect your tyres before taking a long trip, even if you have already checked your tyres twice that month.
If you’re not sure how to check your tyres, an electronic tyre pressure gauge is worth investing in. This makes it easy for you to check your tyre pressure at home when the tyres are cold. Inspect each tyre and note down the measurements for each, especially as some cars require different tyre pressures for the front and rear tyres. You can also ask a tyre technician to check the pressure of your tyres for you.
How Much Air Pressure Should Be in My Tyres and What Causes the Wrong Pressure?
There are several factors that can lead to your tyres becoming either under-inflated or over-inflated. Some of the main reasons for the wrong tyre pressure might include:
- Putting in too much air when you are filling your tyres
- Air leaks out of the tyre over time due to broken valves, punctures, or permeation
- Overloading your car
- Distortion, tyre flexing, or being involved in an accident
- Seasonal climate changes – tyre pressure usually drops faster during colder weather
What Happens When It’s Wrong?
Having the wrong tyre pressure is not only bad for fuel efficiency, but it can also be a highly dangerous situation for you as a driver. If you are driving with tyres that are over-inflated or under-inflated, this can affect the safety of your car by negatively impacting the handling and braking. Keeping your tyres at the correct pressure is crucial for not only keeping yourself safe but also for the safety of your passengers and other road users. The wrong tyre pressure can have several negative impacts on your car, including a higher risk of tyre deflection, which refers to the tyre becoming deformed and bulging out of the contact patch and on the sidewalls.
Overinflated tyres: Having too much air in your tyres will cause weaker traction and grip when the rubber is in contact with the road. You may notice that the car bounces, slips, and slides on the road and that your brakes are not as responsive as they should be. This can be a very dangerous situation to be in, especially if you are travelling at high speeds on busy highways.
Underinflated tyres: When there is not enough air in the tyre, it’s effectively running flat, which leads to a contact patch that is larger and misshapen. As a result, there is more rolling resistance and friction between the rubber of the tyre and the road, filling the tyre with more warm air and causing it to heat up. This reduces the fuel economy of your car and increases C02 emissions, which ultimately causes your tyre to become worn out much faster. Underinflated tyres can also impact the braking responsiveness and can be quite dangerous to drive on. Low tyre pressure is one of the top causes of tyre blowouts since it compromises the internal structure of the tyre.
How Much Air to Put in Car Tyres – Signs Your Tyres Need More Air
If you are concerned about the condition of your tyres, the good news is that there are several signs to look out for that can help you determine if you are driving on underinflated tyres and that you need to put more air in them. Ideally, all drivers should do a quick spot check of their tyres regularly to look out for these issues.
- Looking Flat
Simply looking at your tyres can tell you a lot about whether or not they are likely to need more air. If your tyres appear flatter than usual or are not their normal shape, then they might need more air. If you’re unsure, use a tyre pressure gauge to double check.
- Driving Experience Changes
When you have been driving your car for a while, you start to get used to it and it’s easier to notice any changes that might indicate your tyres need more air. If there is a difference in the usual motion, sounds, or how quickly your car is picking up speed then your tyres are the first thing that you should check. Hearing unusual noises from underneath the car, the car using more fuel than usual suddenly, or shaky handling and steering could all be signs that your tyres are not inflated properly. This might also be issues with the suspension, so if correctly inflating your tyres doesn’t fix the issue, take it to see a mechanic.
- Weather Changes
It is a good idea to be more vigilant about your tyres during the changes to the season. This is especially true coming into winter when the temperature outside might drop, causing your tyres to lose pressure. Any time your car is exposed to a sudden change in temperature, you should check your tyre pressure. Although it might only be a minimal loss in pressure, these changes can add up over time and cause your tyres to become dangerously under-inflated if not checked.
- Changes to Stopping Distance
Finally, if you notice that it takes longer for your car than it usually would to come to a complete stop when you press the brake, it could be a sign of low or high air pressure in the tyre. When tyres are not correctly inflated, they will be unable to grip the road surface as well, which causes less effective braking.
No matter what car you have, regularly checking and correcting the air pressure in your tyres will help you stay safe, get a better driving experience, and prolong the life of your tyres.